Sleep scientists’ wake-up call for later school starts

  • student sleeping on a desk

As they prepare a major study to test the idea, UK scientists have said that starting school at 10:00 could have huge benefits for teenagers.

Research suggests that society pays too little attention to our “body clock” – and adolescents in particular have a late-running biological rhythm.

This means insisting on an early start can cause sleep deprivation, which in turn can affect learning and health.

A sleep expert made the argument at the British Science Festival in Bradford.

Dr Paul Kelley said that adolescents effectively lose up to two hours of sleep per day, which is “a huge society issue”.

He and colleagues from Oxford are leading a project called Teensleep, which is currently recruiting 100 schools from around the UK to take part in what Dr Kelley called “the world’s largest randomised control trial”, due to commence in 2016.

Ups and downs

Our body clock is a daily cycle which drives the regular rise and fall of certain genes as well as the ebb and flow of our cognitive performance, our metabolism and so on.

For much of our lives – and especially in adolescence – there is a mismatch between this rhythm and the typical working day.

In fact, Dr Kelley said, the body clock of most people between age 10 and 55 is not well suited to rising early.

“Most people wake up to alarms, because they don’t naturally wake up at the time when they have to get up and go to work.

“So we’ve got a sleep deprived society – it’s just that this age group, say 14-24 in particular, is more deprived than any other sector.”

Dr Kelley and his colleagues, including well-known Oxford sleep researcher Prof Russell Foster, argue that school days should start at 10:00 and university at 11:00, to better match the circadian rhythms of adolescents and young adults.

“All the evidence points to the same thing,” Dr Kelley told BBC News.

“There are no negative outcomes for moving [the school day] later, no positive outcomes for moving earlier.”

Silhoutted head watching a screen

The Teensleep experiment, which is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the Education Endowment Fund, will randomly assign its 100 schools into four groups.

One group of schools will shift their school days for 14- to 16-year-olds to a 10:00 start; another group will offer “sleep education” to their students.

This involves “helping students and staff realise sensible ways of making their sleep good sleep”, Dr Kelley said, such as avoiding screen-based activity in the evening.

A third group of schools will introduce both a later start and sleep education, while a fourth, control group will make no such changes.

Keenly awaited

The interventions will commence in the 2016-17 academic year, and the researchers plan to report their results in 2018.

city nightscapeThe availability of artificial light has shifted humans’ daily rhythm

Derk-Jan Dijk is a professor of sleep and physiology at the University of Surrey. He cautioned that shifting the school day might be of limited use without changing other habits that affect our sleep, especially night-time light exposure – making the education part of the trial particularly important.

“It is clear that these adolescents tend to drift later. And many of them will probably prefer to start later,” he told the BBC.

“But why do adolescents like to sleep in later and go to bed later? What is causing this?

“There is undoubtedly a biological component, but that interacts with our artificial light environment.

“And if we can’t change that, then is delaying school times the best solution? Because that way you might not solve the problem – you might shift them even later.”

Prof Dijk said the Teensleep experiment was an important one, which he would observe with interest.

“It will be very interesting to see the results.”

What’s stopping my slumber?


A lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain, depression and reduced fertility.

Gentrified San Jose and SF , California



How Gentrification Accelerated

The initial seeds of gentrification date back several decades in some communities. In fact, a British sociologist first coined the term “gentrification” in 1963.

Gentrification particularly accelerated, though, in recent years as growing numbers of Americans opted to pursue urban lifestyles. The gentrification rate, or share of eligible lower-income tracts experiencing gentrification, was 20 percent for the period following the 2000 Census, more than double the rate of the 1990s. Rates increased in 39 of the 50 cities reviewed.

Some cities experienced rapid gentrification after decades of little or no economic growth. In the District of Columbia, for example, 54 neighborhoods were found to have gentrified since 2000. Back in the 1990s, just five neighborhoods had gentrified in a decade when the city was dubbed the nation’s “murder capital.”

Other neighborhoods began their transition decades ago. In San Francisco, for instance, few tracts were eligible to gentrify by 2000 as much of the city’s housing stock had already increased in price.

It’s important to note that Census Bureau estimates provide only snapshots of different times. So, depending on when a neighborhood gentrified, it may or may not be reflected in data over a 10-year period.

Characteristics of Gentrifying Neighborhoods

Distinct differences emerge between neighborhoods that gentrified and those that haven’t. Neighborhoods gentrifying since 2000 recorded population increases and became whiter, with the share of non-Hispanic white residents increasing an average of 4.3 percentage points. Meanwhile, lower-income neighborhoods that failed to gentrify experienced slight population losses and saw the concentration of minorities increase. They have also experienced different economic fates: Average poverty rates climbed nearly 7 percent in already lower-income tracts that didn’t gentrify, while dropping slightly in gentrifying neighborhoods.

More educated, more income and more urbanize.


President Barack Obama key results

Since President Barack Obama first took office:

  • The economy has added more than 10 million jobs, and job openings are at a 15-year high.
  • The unemployment rate has dropped well below the historical norm, but long-term unemployment remains higher than at the start of the Great Recession.
  • The buying power of the average worker’s weekly paycheck is up 4.4 percent.
  • Corporate profits are running 152 percent higher, and stock prices have soared.
  • The number of immigrants caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally has dropped 53 percent.
  • Federal debt has more than doubled, and annual deficits, after shrinking, are again on the rise.
  • The home ownership rate has dropped by 4 percentage points.
  • The number of Americans on food stamps is up 36 percent.
  • Oil imports are down 53 percent, and wind and solar power have quadrupled.
  • The number of people lacking health insurance has gone down by 15.2 million.

Early first 12 years of brain growth via learning

In a study about human memory, brain growth and learning, the first 12 yrs of human growth and learning is very critical to the future brain health.

In contrast, the rats exposed to the shock compartment at 24 days of life learned and retained the memory for a long time and avoided this place—revealing a memory similar to that of .

Rats develop rapidly during infancy and become sexually mature at about 6 weeks of age. Humans, on the other hand, develop slowly and don’t hit puberty until about age 12-13 years (range: 8 to 16 years).

To address this, the scientists focused on the brain’s hippocampus, which previous scholarship has shown is necessary for encoding new . Here, in a series of experiments similar to the box tests, they found that if the hippocampus was inactive, the ability of younger rats to form latent memories and recall them later by reminders as they got older was diminished. They then found that mechanisms of “critical periods” are fundamental for establishing these infantile memories.

A critical period is a developmental stage during which the nervous system is especially sensitive to environmental stimuli. If, during this period, the organism does not receive the appropriate stimuli required to develop a given function, it may be difficult or even impossible to develop that function later in life. Well-known examples of critical period-based functions are sensory functions, like vision, and language acquisition.

The study shows that there is a critical period for episodic learning and that during this period the hippocampus learns to become able to efficiently process and store memories long-term.

“Early in life, while the brain cannot efficiently form long-term memories, it is ‘learning’ how to do so, making it possible to establish the abilities to memorize long-term,” explains Alberini. “However, the brain needs stimulation through learning so that it can get in the practice of formation—without these experiences, the ability of the neurological system to learn will be impaired.”

These studies, the researchers observe, suggest that using learning and environmental interventions during a critical period may significantly help to address learning disabilities.

Hair growth in 90 yr old taking Angelica, astralagus and aloe vera


Taking care of my senior clients in the bay area have  taught me a lot of lessons. One client of mine had been giving her 90 yr old husband suffering from gout with a combo of Angelica (dried), Astralagus (dried) and Alove vera (fresh added in drinks). After many months, her hubby is now growing hair.

The immune boosting herbs, Angelica and Astralagus, reduce sinility or reverses the aging process, enhances the immune system and promote Bone Marrow Stromal Cell growth. Aloe vera helps in maintaining the alkalinity of the blood/body.

The following are  three scientific studies about these herbs:

  1. Angelica and Astragalus, Chinese herbal medicine, are used as immunostimulants for enriching the blood, anti-tumor and antioxidation effects. However, the synergistic mechanisms of antioxidant effect have long been the object of intensive study. We investigated the deferring senile effect of AAP on aging mice by determination of the contents of monoamine oxidase (MAO) in brain, hydroxyproline (Hyp) in skin, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) in serum, glutathione peroxidase (GSH-PX) and xanthine oxidase (XOD) in liver tissue and immunity organs index.
    The obtained results showed that AAP decreased significantly the content of MAO and H2O2, and enhanced the concentrations of Hyp, GSH-PX and XOD in vivo. No significant differences were found when compared with those of vitamin E. Additionally, AAP could increase immunity organs index. These results demonstrated that AAP had significant deferring senile effect on the aging mice. These changes may be the important mechanisms to prevent mice from aging [Human Health and Biomedical Engineering (HHBE), 2011 International Conference].
  2. Astragalus with Angelica or used separately could promote BMSC proliferation. The mechanism might induce the VEGF protein expression in BMSC. And the independent use of Angelica has no above effect [PubMed].
  3. Combined extract of Astragalus membranaceus and Angelica sinensis (A&A) is a traditional antifibrotic agent in China. The present investigation aimed to determine whether an ACEi (Enalapril) and A&A together have a better antifibrotic effect in unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) than monotherapy with either agent. Transforming growth factor-beta1, fibroblast activation, collagen deposition, macrophage accumulation and tubular cell apoptosis were all decreased.
    The combination of the two drugs was significantly more effective than Enalapril alone in reducing tumor necrosis factor-alpha, collagen accumulation, activation of fibroblasts, and tubular cell apoptosis. In conclusion, Enalapril with A&A significantly decreased tubulointerstitial fibrosis to a greater extent than treatment with Enalapril alone.

Brain food , sources of GABA and for brain cell growth

Doctors often prescribe SSRIs to help put the brakes on the brain for those who are overly amped up.  Essentially, serotonin and GABA are the brakes and Acetylcholine and Dopamine are the gas.  When it comes to anxiety issues, SSRIs are analogous to using the emergency brake on your car to slow down the vehicle as opposed to applying the real brakes.

If you have anxiety and are not responding do SSRIs, you may want to consider increasing your GABA levels.  Of course, you’ll want to consult your doctor before making any changes.

How do you increase GABA levels safely and effectively without medical drugs?  There are several things you can do:

  1.  Eat foods containing higher levels of glutamic acid

The world’s leading brain expert Dr.Eric Braverman has identified a list of foods higher in glutamic acid which can help form GABA in the brain (3).

Glutamic Acid/Glutamate (Forms Glutamine) mgs. per 6-8 OZ. Serving

  • Almonds, tree nuts (10.3 g.)
  • Banana (220 mg.)
  • Beef liver (6.5 g.)
  • Broccoli (740 mg.)
  • Brown Rice (940 mg.)
  • Halibut (7.9 g.)
  • Lentils (2.8 g.)
  • Oats, whole grain (7.4 g)
  • Oranges, citrus fruits (210 mg.)
  • Potato (830 mg.)
  • Rice Bran (3.7 g)
  • Spinach (680 mg.)
  • Walnuts, tree nuts (5.4 g.)
  • Whole Wheat, whole grain (8.6 g.)
  1. Exercise a minimum of 4 times per week

Exercise helps restore levels of all neurotransmitters.  On a relevant side note, the euphoric feeling some people get when exercising (more so with aerobic conditioning) has been attributed to endorphins, but there is no research to prove endorphins are responsible for this.  More than likely, the rush of serotonin is responsible for the uplifting mood during exercise (3).

There has been a couple of small studies indicating that yoga helps increase GABA (4), but I would bet you could get a similar effect anytime you increase exercise levels of any kind.

  1. Boost your Vitamin B-6 intake (or take a B-Complex)

Vitamin B6, if deficient, may impair the production of GABA as it is a cofactor nutrient.  For a better understanding of cofactor nutrients see my prior article.  Since overt vitamin deficiencies are rare, we use urine organic acids testing (UOA) to determine if there are any functional deficiencies.  So far in the UOA testing at our clinic, we have yet to find anyone who is not deficient in the B-complex vitamins.

  • Get a comprehensive urine organic acids test

  • I cannot speak highly enough on how much this test has helped our patients and clients.  If you can determine functional deficiencies via (UOA) and reverse them, you will likely help all of your neurotransmitters and help optimize brain function.
  1. Use calming nutrients to help improve sleep quality

Getting quality sleep can help ensure all neurotransmitters and hormones are balanced and sufficient (6).  My top 2 supplements for increasing sleep quality are:

Magnesium-l- Threonate (As Neuromag):  This is the only form of magnesium that has the ability to raise magnesium levels within the brain.  To read more on the details of magnesium threonate, see my  prior post about it.

Insomnitol is  great for those who need more of a target approach to sleep.  It contains valerian root, lemon balm, passion flower, chamomile, l-theanine, 5HTP and melatonin. To view the spec sheet on this product you may learn more about it here.

  1. Possible GABA benefit from short term Magnolia Bark use (Magnolia officinalis)

Magnolia bark is an herb that has been used in Chinese medicine for centuries and has been shown to increase GABA levels in mice (7).  Relora (a proprietary blend of patented extracts from magnolia and phellodendron) has been shown in some small studies to help with relaxation and emotional well-being (8).  I remain hopeful that the relaxation response results from these studies could be a reflection of increases in GABA, but for right now claims cannot be made.  Magnolia bark may be worth a try as a part of an overall anxiety reduction program, but probably should not be used as a first line of defense.

  1. Possible GABA benefit from inositol

Inositol has been used in psychiatry to help treat of anxiety and depression.  Inositol is part of a messenger system that can help improve GABA and serotonin levels (9).

Fear and anxiety is  good for us; it protects us from danger, keeps us sharp and makes us learn how to avoid unpleasant situations.  However, when anxiety levels start to impair our function, it is important to know how to reduce them.  If you think you may be having minor situational anxiety troubles, I suggest trying the strategies 1,2,3,4,6 and 8 listed above.   For strategies 5 and 7 (UOA testing and for herbal formulas) you should contact your doctor.


Connie’s comments: Many seniors in care home settings have anxiety disorders and are prescribed at least 2-3 neuro meds by their doctors. They need love/care, attention and consistency in their daily regimen. If your seniors at home needs a personalized caregiver in the bay area, text 408-854-1883 or email and Motherhealth Inc also refers carehomes for seniors with Alzheimers or needing 24/7 care.